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Glacier Melt--Good for Big Business, Bad for Drowning Residents

The Arctic is melting, but not everyone is worried--in fact, it's opening up large reserves of oil and minerals that are causing a "cold rush" by various countries who want to mine the area. It may even lead to a new "cold war:" The US recently dispatched two nuclear-powered submarines out to patrol 150 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where the Chinese are eager to search for oil. This move comes at a time when Russia has increased missile testing in the region and Norway has moved its main military base to the far north.

Meanwhile, China has started to negotiate with Greenland, which is rich in the rare earth minerals needed for cell phones. These minerals are much easier to extract now. In the Guardian Weekly, Terry Macalister quotes political scientist "an arms race may be beginning. The strategic value of the region is growing. As this value grows, each state will attach a greater value to their own national interests in the region. The Arctic states may be talking cooperation, but they are preparing for conflict."

And what about the people living in these areas? In Alaska, Inuits are concerned. Macalister quotes Council leader Aqqaluk Lynge as saying, "I certainly have seen the benefits that can come from (oil) royalties. Schools are better. There are swimming pools, gymnasium, cars--and jobs--all the result of billions of dollars. We are not against development in general as such but what we really want to see is sustainable development that will enable us to live in the future in the way we have for hundreds of years around fishing. We know oil and gas is not ultimately sustainable because it will run out."

Macalister quotes NATO admiral James Stavridis as saying, "The cascading interests and broad implications stemming from the effects of climate change should cause today's global leaders to take stock, and unify their efforts to ensure the Arctic remains a zone of co-operation--rather than proceed down the icy slope towards a zone of competition, or worse a zone of conflict."

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